Come forward and contribute for the development of the motherland, urged K.T.Rajasingham, Chief Editor of Asian Tribune at a function, organized by the Agricultural Department of the Northern Provincial Council, held at the Auditorium of the Thirunelvely Agricultural Reseach Centre, Jaffna. The Editor of Asian Tribune donated many varieties of seeds and seedlings to the Director of Agriculture, Northern Provincial Council, at a simple ceremony, held yesterday at the Thirunelvely Agricultural Research Centre.
Rajasingham who resides in Sweden met with officers of the Provincial Council Agriculture Department and presented exotic vegetable seeds and seedlings for the promotion of agriculture in the Northern Province.
At the ceremony held at his honor, he presented the seeds and seedlings of the Bulb Onion or commonly called in Sri Lanka – B onion (white and red varieties), seeds of several varieties of Bell pepper, also known as sweet pepper or as capsicum, new varieties of Pumpkins which are not grown in Sri Lanka, European Cabbages, Strawberry seeds, peas, etc.
These seeds were given to the Agriculture Research Centre for them to propagate from those seeds and seedlings crops and introduce them to farmers in time to come, so that the farmer population in the North will be able to adopt the plantation of these crops in the future.
Speaking at the handing over ceremony K.T. Rajasingham recalled that in 1960s he was associated with K.Thurairatnam, the former Member of Parliament for Point Pedro in providing a handful of grape creeper cuttings and today he said that their efforts have paid a great success and the farmers in Jaffna are involved in the grape cultivation in a very big way and are able to harvest 45 to 50 percent of country’s grape frruits requirement.
Rajasingham said in the 60s, an Israel delegation visited the Jaffna peninsula and they presented a report to say that the peninsula would turn out to be a desert due to the overexploitation of water drawn from spring wells to cultivate tobacco, red onions, chilies in the plots of agricultural lands available in the Jaffna peninsula.
He reminded that as the Israeli experts predicted, salinity has began to seep into the underground water table along the northern coast of the Peninsula. He said that he has tasted waters of spring wells two miles south the coastal areas in Point Pedro and found that salinity has set into the well waters located in those areas.
Rajasingham told that in the 60s after the report of the Israeli experts, he personally took up the issue with Rajaratnam, who was the Director of Irrigation at that time and he was the first man involved in the Mahaveli Diversion project.
The Irrigation Department took up the trouble to study the issue of salinity present in the well waters in the Jaffna Peninsula and came up with the solution to provide arrangement to introduce with measures to replenish the underground water table with fresh water.
With this in mind, they recommended the building of steel barrage across the sea at Thondamanaru to prevent sea water from entering into the Jaffna Lagoon. They also build a lab to analyze the gradual hydrological changes of the Jaffna Lagoon.
He expressed grief and regret that due to the 30 year old ethnic conflict in the country, those barrages built across the sea point in Thondamanaru were left unattended and the sea water has already began to enter the Jaffna Lagoon in a very big way.
Rajasingham explained that when Dinesh Gunawardene was appointed as the Minister of Water and Drainages, he took up the trouble to bring this matter to his notice and urged him to build barrages across the sea at Thondamanaru and ensure that all necessary actions taken to convert the Jaffna Lagoon as a fresh water lagoon in the future.
He said that he joined the SLFP in 1968 and was participating in the Socialist Study Circle of the SLFPers which was chaired by T.B.Ilangaratne. He told that the Study Circle met every month and a member will read his research paper and the other members will discuss the subject dealt in the research paper.
He said he also presented more than half a dozen of papers on various subjects and one of his papers was about Palmyra development.
He explained that in the late sixties, at that time Ceylon Cricket XI was not accorded with any test status. They were playing, ‘if I remember correctly,’ he said that they played 3 day match with Chennai Cricket team for the Goplaan Trophy and also two other matches, one in Trichy and another in Salem.
Rajasingham told that he met the popular matinee idol – the Tamil cine actor M.G.Ramachandran at the Trichy cricket stadium. Ramachandran in 1966 visited Sri Lanka along with actress Sarojadevi on the invitation of the Dawasa Group of papers and he was the man in attendance when Tamil cinema pair when they visited the upcountry, as well as Batticaloa and Jaffna.
As Ramachandran was acquainted to him, he said he was invited for a lunch with him and later the actor helped him to visit some of the traditional industrial centers in Trichy.
Rajasingham said that he visited some industries connected with Palmyra product and also one or two cigar rolling workshops.
Rajasingham explained that after those visits, he developed an interest in the Palmyra based products and prepared a paper on Palmyra development to the Study Circle.
Subsequently, when the SLFP led government came to power in 1970 July, the paper on Palmyra development was forwarded to Dr. Colvin R.De Silva, who was then initially the Minister for plantation Industry.
Later the Minister called and discussed with Rajasingham about the prospects of developing plmyrah based products and explained to him and the Minister appointed a committee led by Retired Justice Sivasubramaniam and it recommended for the establishment of a Palmyra Development Board.
He said though the Coconut Board act was amended to set up a Palmyra Development Board, but it was in 1977 during J.R.Jayawardene’s government time only the Board came into existence and Mr. K.C. Nithiyanandan, the uncle of Minister Douglas Devananda was appointed as the Chairman and the young Douglas Devananda for sometime until he joined the militant group was his uncle’s Private Secretary.
Rajasingham also said that at present he is involved with a project of propagating scientifically the growth Aloe Vera as the jelly of Aloe Vera is much in demand in the West and this is needed for the production numerous beauty products and for pharmaceutical products and also Aloe Vera drinks too are available in the West.
Mr.Rajasingham urged the Northern Province Agricultural officers to concentrate on the research on Aloe Vera and identify the correct variety of Aloe Vera needed to use in the industrial projects.
In conclusion Rajasingham appealed to Sri Lankan diaspora to contribute even in a very small way for the promotion of our motherland and also of our brothers and sisters in Sri Lanka for them to have a better future.
– Asian Tribune –